iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max: Lighter, Faster, and More Powerful Than Ever
- Introduction of iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max with titanium build.
- Switch from Lightning to USB-C and its advantages.
- Enhanced camera features, including 5x optical zoom.
- A17 Pro Bionic chip and gaming capabilities.
At Apple’s annual autumn event, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max were unveiled. Upon handling them within the confines of the Steve Jobs Theater, it became apparent that significant refinements had been made in comparison to their predecessors from the Pro series.
Notably, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max have departed from the stainless steel used in last year’s iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, now adopting titanium, resulting in a noticeable weight reduction.
In recent years, Apple has employed its Pro line to pioneer technological advancements while maintaining the prior year’s technology in its standard models, likely to manage costs and encourage upgrading to the premium, higher-priced models.
This pattern continues with the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus, which inherit the perks of the 14 Pro. With rumors of an iPhone 15 Ultra unfounded, it’s evident that the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max stand as Apple’s most advanced phones to date.
The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max feature gently curved edges, providing a more comfortable grip. It’s worth noting that I had a mere half-hour to experiment with them in a crowded demonstration area, but the reduced weight and slimmer profile left a positive impression.
The new Pros sport narrower bezels, allowing for slightly more screen real estate, maintaining sizes of 6.1 inches for the iPhone 15 Pro and 6.7 inches for the iPhone 15 Pro Max.
Regarding color options, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max offer four metallic choices: the classic black and white titanium, as well as a blue titanium, and a “natural” titanium with a subtle gray tone.
The iPhone 15 Pro starts at $999 (£999, AU$1,849), while the iPhone 15 Pro Max begins at $1,199 (£1,199, AU$2,199). Although the Pro Max comes with a higher price tag than last year’s starting price for the iPhone 14 Pro Max at $1,099, the new iPhone 15 Pro Max begins with 256GB of internal storage, double that of its predecessor.
As previously rumored, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max have replaced the Lightning port with USB-C, boasting data throughput at an impressive 10GB per second (the iPhone 15 and 15 Plus have also transitioned to USB-C).
Notably, there’s one more addition: an action button has replaced the long-standing mute switch that iPhones have featured for years. By default, a long press mutes or unmutes the device.
However, it can be customized to trigger various shortcuts, such as activating the flashlight, recording a voice memo, or opening the camera. Interestingly, once the camera app is open, the action button serves as a physical shutter button for taking photos, reminiscent of the Sony Xperia 1 V and its dedicated hardware shutter button
Enhanced Cameras, Improved Zoom Capabilities.
The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max now house a 48-megapixel camera with an expanded sensor. While the default photo resolution remains at 24 megapixels, lidar scanning has been incorporated to enhance low-light and nighttime photography. Additionally, these phones retain a 12-megapixel ultrawide camera from last year’s iPhone 14 Pro.
However, the standout feature this year is the improved zoom, exclusive to the larger premium model. The Pro model retains its predecessor’s 3x telephoto camera (equivalent to a 77mm lens), whereas the Pro Max boasts a 5x optical zoom (equivalent to a 120mm lens).
This “tetra prism” design refracts light multiple times, enabling greater zoom capability within the iPhone’s compact form. My experience trying out the Pro Max’s new telephoto camera was truly eye-opening, as the difference between 5x and 3x zoom was substantial. I even had the ability to digitally zoom up to an astonishing 25x magnification, a remarkable feat for an iPhone.
It’s worth noting that high-end Android phones, particularly the Samsung Galaxy S series, have employed similar periscope camera technology for years. These phones employ a design strategy involving stacked lenses within the device’s frame, utilizing a mirror to direct the lenses out of the phone’s back. For instance, the Galaxy S23 Ultra boasts a periscope camera capable of 10x optical zoom.
Apple is also aiming to cater to professional photographers by introducing more intermediary zoom options within the camera app’s interface. With the camera app open, users can easily switch between popular focal lengths, including 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm, and set their preferred focal length as the default when launching the app.
Video capabilities of the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max cameras have also been expanded, including vlog encoding. Furthermore, the phones leverage the higher throughput speeds offered by USB-C cables to capture and instantly transfer photos in the maximum sharpness Pro Raw format from the iPhone 15 Pro to a Mac. Additionally, they support recording video in ProRes format directly to an external storage drive.
The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max introduce a forward-looking feature in spatial video capture, utilizing multiple cameras to produce videos with depth that can be enjoyed on an Apple Vision Pro AR/VR headset. Unfortunately, this feature is slated for release later this year.
Swift Processor, Elevated Gaming
The iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are powered by the A17 Pro Bionic processor, a 3-nanometer chip boasting a staggering 19 billion transistors for enhanced performance. The new six-core GPU delivers up to 20% greater performance than the A16’s GPU and supports ray tracing.
Apple’s tradition of promoting mobile gaming continues, with Ubisoft and Capcom developers endorsing full console versions of Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Resident Evil 8, and Resident Evil 4 Remake for the iPhone.
While the iPhone 15 Pro’s gaming capabilities are emphasized, the A17 Pro chip will also bring notable benefits to augmented reality applications.